News Article

Feature: In Defence of Super Mario Sunshine

Posted by Jamie O'Neill

Do or don't look back into the sun

Ten years ago today, on 26th August 2002, GameCube title Super Mario Sunshine was released in North America to an abundance of critical acclaim, with relatively muted murmuring that it was an unworthy follow-up to Super Mario 64. Gradually over the past decade opinions have grown more divided and gamers have become increasingly vocal about the game’s shortcomings or strengths. Therefore, just as Mario started his GameCube adventure as a convicted vandal, Super Mario Sunshine has perhaps become tarred with a magic graffiti brush, labelling it as a villain of Super Mario games.

However, we believe that its ten year anniversary is a time to celebrate, so armed with Professor E. Gadd’s FLUDD we aim to wash away any dirt that has been flung at this game. It’s our intention to remember its magic and give it another chance to ‘Shine’, or if you are a Japanese reader of Nintendo Life, ‘Shine Get!’ Below is a list of what are often considered to be negative attributes of this title: as we defend Sunshine the occasional spoiler may be discussed, so be warned.

We are not blind to Super Mario Sunshine’s failings; we accept that it’s not perfect. In enclosed areas like the hotel lobby on Sirena Beach the camera feels restrictive, particularly as you have to squirt ghosts to create disappearing platforms, although expansive open environments are more common than the claustrophobic hotel. We admit that its camera can be cumbersome and cause frustration, but this finicky camera is also a result of FLUDD’s innovative gameplay additions to the 3D platformer genre. A standout PAL launch title for the original PlayStation was a first-person platform game called Jumping Flash!, which added a sense of verticality to 3D game worlds as Robbit would leap high into the air to navigate upward to tall platform structures. The skill was in the player aiming Robbit’s shadow in the first-person viewpoint, to determine where they would land.

Super Mario Sunshine incorporates similar design in many of its game areas; Mario is repeatedly tasked with climbing huge vertiginous structures and environments, whether with the rocket nozzle power-up or by floating between platforms using the hover nozzle. Therefore, he’s able to cover far greater distances than the jump trajectory of a traditional platform character and the camera struggles to keep up. The player has a certain amount of control with the C-Stick, they can pull the camera far back to a top-down viewpoint, or zoom it closer in, but it’s challenging to position it to judge narrow landing points.

Super Mario Galaxy addressed problems like this with spherical areas, on which Mario could cling to the surface with a gravitational pull. However, Super Mario Sunshine conveys a sense of beauty when ascending Noki Bay to uncork a waterfall and a feeling of empowerment after conquering the skies of Bianca Hills, by rocketing to collect red coins scattered around a lake. Your patience may be tested as you fall repeatedly off precarious metal girders, for example while searching for a caged Shine Sprite in Ricco Harbor, but it also feels refreshing to explore areas at such a height.

Although rolling a watermelon past fruit-hating Cataquacks to deliver for a festival is too fussy to be fun, it’s the classic platforming areas where Shadow Mario robs you of FLUDD which are often criticised for being overly difficult. These sections deliver an old-school challenge, orchestrated by a chirpy rendition of the original Super Mario Bros. theme, as they are devoid of checkpoints and are surrounded by instant death pits. It’s the player’s skill at moves like side-somersaults and wall-kicks, or in levels like the ‘The Shell’s Secret’ a combination of both, which determine how much you enjoy these sections. Many of these levels have hidden 1-Up mushrooms to ease your pain and they evoke a satisfying sense of relief once they are completed.

In Super Mario Sunshine the player often has the option of attempting a new episode on a different level when they are stuck, although the difficulty curve feels inconsistent as a challenging stage may be followed by an easy level and vice versa. You develop skills as you master the dynamics of FLUDD, so something as simple as lightly pressing the R Trigger while running, to take advantage of the shoulder button’s analogue functionality, is invaluable when spraying pathways of gloop, or soaking a giant electric Manta ray. This technique is also useful for chasing down Shadow Mario, especially as you must conquer his appearance in the seventh episode of all seven main levels to unlock Bowser’s hideout in Corona Mountain. This is also an example of how becoming proficient with the controls can make challenging stages appear more fair and manageable.

Not every Mario game needs to be set in the Mushroom Kingdom; Super Mario World was in Dinosaur Land and Super Mario Galaxy in outer space. The sun-drenched setting and tropical tunes of Super Mario Sunshine are an intrinsic part of its charm, meaning it easily earned a place in our recent Summer Sizzlers feature. The graphics glisten and the inclusion of progressive scan is welcome, as it showcases visual variety through golden beaches, a bustling amusement park and clear water bay areas to give you a subtle feeling of taking a holiday in a video game. Shigeru Miyamoto praised the game’s water effects and you will likely find the gentle ripples of its bay waters, as well as calm clear lakes, inviting. Similarly, diving deep down to clean an eel’s teeth is fun.

It looks and feels refreshing, so doesn’t need a slippery ice or dusty desert world to justify itself as a platformer. Super Mario Sunshine may have classic Mario characters missing from its roster, but by introducing Isle Delfino residents like the Pianta and Noki it creates its own style. It still includes enough of a sprinkling of Cheep-Cheeps and Boo ghosts to feel like a Mario game, plus bathing a Chain Chomp, surfing on Bloopers and battling Petey Piranha feel fitting in the Mario universe. Controlling Yoshi is a welcome addition, even if it’s not as fun as in Super Mario Galaxy 2, while learning how he spits different fruit juice to change the direction of fishy-platforms is a unique puzzle mechanic. The final Bowser showdown may be more of a battle with a hot tub, but it is an exciting set-piece, as is blasting Mecha-Bowser while riding a rollercoaster. The episode in which ‘The Sand Bird is Born’, including its calm ethereal music, is a great example of how the areas located in Isle Delfino have a style and atmosphere all of their own.

Some gamers consider Super Mario Sunshine to be a disappointment in relation to the benchmark set by the rest of the Mario series, in a similar way to how Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Godfather Part III are often viewed in regard to the quality set by their respective film franchises. However, this does Super Mario Sunshine a disservice and doesn’t take into account that its release was sandwiched between two of the most outstanding console Mario games created. The transition from 16-bit 2D graphics to exploring Super Mario 64’s 3D worlds, lovingly scattered around Princess Peach's Castle, was so impactful that it’s understandable when Nintendo struggled to match the expectations of a follow-up to their N64 masterpiece. The craftsmanship and pure creative wonder in Super Mario Galaxy was so joyous, Nintendo was wise to fine-tune its winning formula in Super Mario Galaxy 2.

It’s one thing to argue that Super Mario Sunshine didn’t have the impact of Super Mario 64, or that it is not as tightly crafted as Super Mario Galaxy, but to declare it unworthy of the entire Mario franchise is dramatic and undersells a brilliant video game. It’s a reaction that can arguably be similarly applied to Super Mario Bros. 2, which followed the success of Super Mario Bros. and preceded the refinement of Super Mario Bros. 3. The quirkiness of a title adapted from Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic was unlikely to have the same universal appeal, just as a central gameplay mechanic utilising a hovering backpack was unconventional for a genre that revolves around jumping on platforms. However, it’s beneficial for each Mario title to embrace its own style and Super Mario Sunshine has forged its own sense of identity.

As far as video game critics are concerned when reviewing it ten years ago, Super Mario Sunshine received positive reviews and holds an excellent Metacritic score of 92 today, as a result of 61 reviews, which is significant coverage for an older game’s aggregate Metascore. This includes top-mark scores from Nintendo Power, GamePro and Computer and Video Games (CVG). It’s also worth noting that Super Mario Sunshine was praised by retro magazines that are not included in the Metascore, for example the two UK GameCube-centric magazines at the time, NGC Issue 73 and CUBE No.10, scored it highly as 96/100 and 9.6/10 respectively. It could be argued that a magazine with a focus on GameCube is more likely to celebrate an anticipated first-party exclusive, but multi-format magazines also applauded it, like the 10/10 review in Issue 251 of CVG. A ‘Nine out of ten’ rating in Issue 114 of EDGE also emphatically stated that Super Mario Sunshine was “the second best platform game of all time”, second only to Super Mario 64 in September 2002.

Nintendo Life awarded a 9/10 in our Super Mario Sunshine retro review and it made it into the Top 10 of our favourite Super Mario Games, demonstrating that it’s not just on its 10 year anniversary that we acknowledge Super Mario Sunshine as an excellent game.

What do you think of Super Mario Sunshine, and how does it rate in the Super Mario series?

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User Comments (162)

SanderEvers

#1

SanderEvers said:

I played it once and it's the top 1 Mario Game for me...

..on my "least favorite Mario game"-list.
Actually, it's the only mario game on THAT list.

Bobhobob

#2

Bobhobob said:

Fun game... good times
I like how there's a ton of dancing by the Delfinos

willobee

#3

willobee said:

Actually my favourite Mario game. It was the first one I felt compelled to 100%, and even then I would come back to my complete file just to jump around and look at the scenery. This game has atmosphere oozing from it's pores.

Dodger

#4

Dodger said:

I like a lot of stuff about Mario Sunshine. I don't like the blue coins. Having so many of the shines just be from collecting blue coins feels like cheating. Star coins/comet medals are a much better way to do that.

WaxxyOne

#5

WaxxyOne said:

Yeah, I don't understand the hate this game gets from other gamers. To me it seems like a standard follow-up to Super Mario 64. Like 64, it is a 3D platformer with non-sequential gameplay, with the game world divided up into sub-levels each containing a number of goals to achieve, and with some events and secrets to discover in the main "lobby" area of the game. On top of that, Nintendo added the mechanics of the FLUDD device and utilized the superior hardware to vastly improve the graphics and the size of the areas that you could explore throughout the game.

As with any game, it has some flaws in execution, but to me these never ruined the game in the least. I remember a few shines that were very hard to earn, but like Mario 64 you don't need to collect every shine to beat the game, so really those hard ones are only there to give an added challenge to completionists and the hardcore gamers that crave it.

Dinosaurs

#6

Dinosaurs said:

It never appealed to me. I don't think of it when I think back to my Mario gaming experiences. not in my Mario cannon. I bought it again years later to give it a second chance and it still didn't take for me. Too bad.

sinalefa

#7

sinalefa said:

As I have mentioned it before, I played this game a year ago for the first time, so maybe playing it almost ten years after it was released and after enjoying each and every level of Galaxy 2 it was not the best idea.

The author is mentioning negative points of the game, he seems to be forgetting the terrible voice acting, probably because it must be hard to defend it. No wonder Bowser reverted to growls after that.

Things that I also hated was the camera that would always be moving (I hated when you have to cross a gap with FLUDD, you have the camera behind Mario and as soon as you take off the camera will make a 180° turn, totally ruining your jump) and the lack of a long jump that made the Shadow Mario levels so unfair and frustrating. It was fun to see some of those levels returned in Galaxy, being a lot more manageable with both the long jump and the spin jump.

In all fairness, the atmosphere is different and the game's levels gave me a Super Mario 64 vibe, and the graphics are colorful and nice. Still I hate Piantas and that Blooper boss felt like a God of War boss fight. Never thought I could dismember a giant creature in a Mario game.

zipmonStaff

#8

zipmon said:

Brilliant feature and a great read Jamie - you've inspired me to break out Sunshine again and start from scratch! It really is a wonderful game, and the Isle Delfino visual style and water effects really hold up well today!

RupeeClock

#9

RupeeClock said:

The biggest issue I had with the game was that there was no actual variation in the goals you could accomplish to reach the final boss. The final boss was disappointing but that's another matter.

To get to the final level, all you had to do was capture Shadow Mario on the 7th episode of each level, that's it.
You needed to collect shines to open up more areas but these would all happen as you went to do the 7th episode of each area anyway.

In effect, this renders most of the shines totally optional, no benefit in collecting those blue coins to redeem for shines, no need to get a hundred coins in any given stage, or find the numerous hidden shines around Isle Defino and its bonus stages.

Now, if we're talking about going for 100% completion and getting the most out of the game, after all fun is in doing all the game has to offer, right?
Well, each area had 30 blue coins hidden away, in effect giving you three extra shines per area.
The trouble is these blue coins disappear and reappear between episodes, and there's no counter that indicates which episode you need to be seeking on, or if you've got all the possible blue coins for that episode of that level.
These leads to some EXTREMELY frustrating coin hunting, when the most esoteric and too well hidden of coins includes standing on a very specific platform and spraying towards the moon.

And if you actually do put up with the frustration and finally get the 120th shine, your reward is actually a WORSE ending screen than the normal one.

That's the biggest issue I had with Sunshine, the blue coins were nothing more than incredibly frustrating filler. Compared to say, the green stars of Super Mario Galaxy 2, that's how you properly add filler to a game.

Millenia

#10

Millenia said:

I love this game so much, I don't understand why people don't like it. Sure, it's different. But what is life without diversity? Boring. Also, the camera may have its issues, but it's nowhere near as frustrating as the camera in Super Mario 64. It wouldn't even let you move it where you wanted it to go sometimes. It's understandable though due to it being such an early 3D game.

ThomasBW84Admin

#11

ThomasBW84 said:

It's important to remember in an age when there's plenty of (valid) complaints about the New Super Mario Bros. series showing signs of repetition, that this one tried something different. A nice, eloquent defence Jamie :)

I've got this one sitting by the Wii, along with a GameCube controller, just need to find the time to get started.

Smitherenez

#12

Smitherenez said:

Still need to play it, I have found it cheap somewhere. "Now, mister employer, where is my loan?"

citizenerased

#13

citizenerased said:

How some people prefer this to Galaxy, I can't understand. Every single one of its game elements is inferior. Every. Single. One.

The best parts are easily the abstract levels where they take away Fludd — when the camera isn't being a pain. But Galaxy is filled with those things.

There are some decent bosses and a great atmosphere but much of its game design is annoying (or plain broken, like the Pachinko level). I'd probably give it like a 7 out of 10 if I was feeling generous. It's a surprisingly frustrated mess for a Nintendo game — let alone a Mario game.

k8sMum

#14

k8sMum said:

my kids and i had tons of fun with Mario Sunshine. it wasn't perfect, parts were terrifically difficult, the camera was a pain, but we embraced the differentness (if that's not a word it should be :-)) of it and just went along for the ride.

we didn't expect perfect games back in the day. we took what we had and played, mocked cursed ninty at times and just got on with it all.

GazPlant

#16

GazPlant said:

It's about time I went back to Sunshine. It was the game that made me buy a GameCube, and I loved every minute of it. Superb game

ScreamoPichu

#20

ScreamoPichu said:

I thought the opinions of this game have actually become more loving over the past decade. I personally thought it was one of the best GameCube games.

WanderFan91

#22

WanderFan91 said:

That was a good article, Jamie! :) I enjoyed reading it.
Super Mario Sunshine was one of my very first GameCube games growing up (it was back in Christmas '02), and I think it was the first 3D Mario platformer I played (I didn't play Super Mario 64 until years later). I still like the game; it looks great, plays decently, and the atmosphere is very nice, but the game could be hard at times. It's a good game in its own right; it's not my favorite 3D Mario title (that award goes to Super Mario Galaxy), but imo it's fun. One of the few Mario titles I haven't beaten (even all these years later).

MayhemStaff

#23

Mayhem said:

The classic sections without the FLUDD were never the issue, I don't know why people complained they were too hard, because they weren't. Some of the shines with Yoshi were FAR more frustrating and anger inducing than any of the classic section. And I definitely agree with RupeeClock about the filler nature of the blue coins...

Lan

#24

Lan said:

Easily my favorite Mario platformer. It has the awesome level structure of Super Mario 64 and it controls excellently.

LavaTwilight

#25

LavaTwilight said:

Oh come on it wasn't that bad! It was a difficult game but then I'm fed up with Mario games being too easy! There's very little challenge in Mario anymore. In fact I've got 100% in every single Mario game (including lost levels) except for this one due to the blue coins.
It's one of my favourite Mario games of all time. I understand why people prefer other Mario games but it's not a 'bad' game at all. In fact I love the Piantas and feel they're a very welcome addition to the Mario Universe :)

I-U

#26

I-U said:

Super Mario Sunshine is always in the argument for my favorite 3D Mario title, though so are the others with the exception of Galaxy 2. IT IS the 3D Mario game with the highest level of atmosphere, personality and originality. Outside of the Super Mario 64 installments, Sunshine is also the only really exploration friendly 3D Mario game and certainly is the most immersive perhaps of the whole franchise. Turbo FLUDD is easily my favorite 3D Mario powerup as well. Should get a sequel on the 3DS.

CJ_Vick

#27

CJ_Vick said:

I've played a lot of Mario games, including both Galaxies and 3D Land, but this is honestly my favorite Mario game. I don't know why, but there's something so... diverse about it that I love. It has its flaws, sure, but I think it's a worthy Mario title.

SwimyGreen

#28

SwimyGreen said:

Wow. I never noticed the camera. I think I've played so many 3D platformers, that I just ignored it.

I really enjoied Sunshine for the mood AND the difficulty/design. It was easier and slightly less linear than 64 which makes most of the levels Possible without a walkthrough. I loved SMG too, but is was too linear and a little too easy. It seems that every 3D Mario game is easier than the last. I really hope it doesn't keep going in that direction.

IMO a mix of Galaxy and Sunshine would be the best Mario platformer ever.

zezhyrule

#30

zezhyrule said:

What is there to defend? This game is amazing. Every game out there has lots of naysayers.

Maybe you should make an article on defending Zelda: TP :3

Nin-freak

#31

Nin-freak said:

It's a great game, with a thin theme. I wish they would make a galaxy in SMG that was designed off the Super Mario Sunshine Island world.

LittleKing

#32

LittleKing said:

Sunshine was, and may always be, my favourite 3D Mario game of all time. I had no trouble at all with the camera, enjoyed the Shadow Mario sections without the FLUDD, loved the FLUDD itself and found the environments to be stunning. I liked Sunshine more than both Galaxy games, because, although I enjoyed them, I felt they lacked character. Most of the time you're jumping between planetoids in space, and that made me greatly miss the sprawling areas of Sunshine.

I loved Sirena Beach the most. When I first played Sunshine, I would spend hours just running on the beach through the water, through the hotel and in its attic goofing off. That's probably what I spent most of my time doing in Sunshine, goofing off, and what I spent almost no time doing at all in Galaxy 1 & 2, sadly. Except in the one Sunshine level in Galaxy 2, out of nostalgia.

Really, the only negative things I can say about Sunshine are its voice acting, which doesn't really bother me that much, and its lame final boss battle. I actually enjoyed most of the bosses before Bowser-in-a-Bathtub, and Blue Coins weren't much of pain since I wasn't obsessed with finding every single one like some people.

Hopefully, Nintendo will return to the large sprawling worlds of 64 and Sunshine again someday, rather than make a Galaxy 3, 4 ... n.

hydeks

#34

hydeks said:

I'm sick of people bad mouthing Mario Sunshine, cause personally it was my most favourite Mario game out there to date! What not to love about this game? The awesome sunny graphics, the level designs where great, we didn't have the traditional goombas and such, which was a great change...yay, this game is better than Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 put together in my opinion. Honestly, Nintendo gave us another side-story game like Super Mario Bros 2 and people bad mouth the game cause it doesn't have all the traditional Mario things, but mean while Nintendo makes a more traditional game and people complain theres nothing new. Gamers really don't know what they want -_-

Ohh, and difficulty? Since when is difficulty a bad thing, running through a game without any sense of difficulty sucks a HELL of a lot more. I want difficulty, cause than when u finally beat it, you feel like you accomplished something. Many games out there need more difficulty to them, things have gotten WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too easy in gaming.

Ernest_The_Crab

#35

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Nin-freak Well they did design a couple of levels around the Delfino Island theme for Galaxy 1 and 2 if I remember right. Nothing too detailed but they did show up in the games.

@I-U I'd say it'd be a toss-up between turbo and rocket for me. I used to always look around for a rocket power up and jump to the tallest point in a level just to look around.

I'd have to say one of the things I loved a lot about the game was the connection between levels. If you looked around after entering a world you could always see the other worlds off in the distance, even if invisible walls (and painted images) did prevent you from actually reaching them.

Atmosphere was probably the best in the series mostly due to the amount of effort to fit the music and worlds with the theme. I kind of prefer the more natural music for this game, to say, the "bigger" orchestra stuff done in the Galaxy games.

Here's hoping for a sequel.

sonik

#37

sonik said:

Sunshine was for me a dissapointment when it was releleased, I point my finger to that stupid water-gizmo gimmic (fludd) mario is supposed to jump, punch, run use power-up etc but NOT spray water around, the best stages in the game was when mario taked off fludd and jumped at classic mario stages (in 3d) with classic mario music but in acapella. The rest was lot of spraying water on varius enimies etc and that maked the game quite hard, I've played Mario 64 to the end and got all 120 stars that was a FUN challange, sunshine was a BORING challange.

ueI

#38

ueI said:

The only thing I didn't like about this game was the difficulty. The problem is that you have to complete almost every mission in the game to see the ending, as the article mentions. What's the point of the player having "the option of attempting a new episode on a different level when they are stuck," if you have to get through them all eventually anyway? I never finished the game, having progressed about halfway through each world before the impossible missions blocked me from continuing.

And yes, others are right about the secret shine sprites being useless filler. I still think they're more entertaining than green star hunting in Super Mario Galaxy 2, however. I guess the shine sprites aren't that useless if I had fun collecting them. There just isn't anything that happens when you collect them, unfortunately.

Chuie

#39

Chuie said:

mario 64 is my favorite mario game but screw that sequel when we got mario sunshine :]

Guitardude7

#40

Guitardude7 said:

Yes this game isn't perfect, yes it has many, MANY flaws. Yes some levels are extremly frustrating (Watermelon stage is the bane of my existence) and yes the camera is rushed and frustrating. However, this is in no way a bad game. Super Mario Sunshine suffers from what I'd like to call Ocarina of Time Syndrom. Its predeccesor was so amazing and great being universally praised, that every sequel that comes after it just cant break its chain. The Legend of Zelda Windwaker was faced to do the impossible: out do Ocarina of Time where Majoras Mask failed. When it was first revealed people absolutely hated it, and though today people realize how great it truly is in its own right back then, it was just as ridiculed as Sunshine was. Its the same exact situation with Super Mario 64. People wanted a sequel to blow there mind, and its something Nintendo just couldnt do. So they changed it. People hated the radical change from SM 64 and thus never game a chance and its flaws only furthur exaggerated there opinion.

But Super Mario Sunshine is NOT a bad game, it's just different. Nintendo didnt just want to repeat the same formula from Mario 64 because they feared it would get stagnent so they came up with a whole new gameplay mechanic to shakeup the formula. But like I said, people hate change, and its this very reason why Nintendo doesnt try to innovate with the Mario series anymore! Yea! Its you F*ckers that force Nintendo to spoon feed you Nostalgia with this whole NSMB series because if they even TRY to change things up, you people go crazy! Why not quit whining and actually play the whole game through looking past its flaws? Let go of your freaking childhood and give the new ideas a chance!

Its not a perfect Mario game, but at least Nintendo tried to innovate back then and for that, you need to give them credit. For what its worth its a fun game and deserved to be amongst the Super Mario franchise best for its uniqueness.

Yosher

#41

Yosher said:

While I do think this game is great, I do think it's worse than both Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. Both the first 2D and 3D Mario games seem to have something in common; the first one introduced something completely new and ground-breaking (Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64), the second in the series took a bit of a different direction which are generally disliked BECAUSE it was so different and a bit flawed (Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Sunshine), and the third seemed to perfect what the first game started (Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy).

But that doesn't mean at all that those second games are bad. Super Mario Sunshine is a great game that deserves the Mario brand on it! The only real pickle I have with it is the way the final battle is handled, and the blue coins. Well, and the fact that Isle Delfino Yoshis can't swim; that's a rediculous design choice.

WesCash

#44

WesCash said:

One of my favourite Mario games.
The setting, soundtrack, and gameplay style are all awesome.
Much better than both Galaxy games as well as 3D Land.

Sabrewing

#45

Sabrewing said:

If any game needed a New Play Control port, it was this one. Aiming FLUDD with the pointer would have been SO much less of a headache.

Yasume

#46

Yasume said:

Sunshine = 64 > Galaxy 2 > Galaxy. Sunshine is a freaking masterpiece. I will never understand the hate for it.

GrumpyGoomba

#49

GrumpyGoomba said:

One of my favorite games of all time it just has a great overall feel to it.The music alone made the game awesome

gameruk

#50

gameruk said:

got this release day and loved it its about time mario has another vacation mario sunshine 2 on wii u yes please

BandG

#52

BandG said:

my favorite game ever, maybe second or third, by far the best mario game, amazing worlds, music, levels, graphics, i dont see how you couldnt love this game, also galaxy and especially galaxy 2 dont even compare with its linearness, short levels, easy, too many galaxies... i hope nintendo realizes that this type of gameplay is just as good if not better for some of their fans... anyway happy B-day Super Mario Sunshine!

SilverYoshi

#53

SilverYoshi said:

Sunshine will always be my fav mario game. heck, maybe even my favourite game in general. It was one of my first true games and very nostalgic to me. honestly it wasn't that bad. I loved how it was free roaming. something recent mario games don't seem to have.

Azikira

#55

Azikira said:

It was possibly my favorite 3D Mario game, because it had depth, length, and most importantly, a healthy challenge unlike most games nowadays.

Neram

#56

Neram said:

Wow, I admit I've never heard of most of these complaints. I always thought the camera was fine, and too difficult? That's not a complaint, that just means you suck.

The only one I've noticed on my own, is the environments all blending in together, not feeling distinct enough. I think people are too hard on Mario Sunshine simply because it's a GameCube game and one of Nintendo's weakest, but that doesn't mean it's bad, or nearly as bad as people say.

Chrono_Cross

#57

Chrono_Cross said:

For the most part this was a great read. But it's as if the writer played through Sunshine and took notes on the levels he was struggling on just for an article like this. Of course, I agree on just about every you brought up except this one:

it’s the classic platforming areas where Shadow Mario robs you of FLUDD which are often criticised for being overly difficult.

Those levels aren't "overly difficult". They're fair, it just takes some trial and error to overcome them.

koelboel

#58

koelboel said:

Playing it actually gave me the feeling of being on holiday.
Great game. Oh and the sunset on Sirena Beach is magical.

grimbldoo

#59

grimbldoo said:

I don't understand why people say they hate this. Everyone knows that it has it problems, but it was fresh and innovative. It was a step out but didn't stray too far from Mario. I would love it if they made squeal to this and fixed all of the problems.

Undead_terror

#61

Undead_terror said:

Really enjoyed this game, I remember when this came out, they even had a contest on ytv to win this and a gamecube (when it was good)

EvisceratorX

#62

EvisceratorX said:

This was my second favorite 3D mario, right behind SMG 2. By the way, I don't know if it's spelled differently over in the UK, but isn't "defence" spelled with an s?

Ras

#64

Ras said:

My problem is I'm an inverted control player and that option isn't available here. I can't get used to the controls and it's frustrating. Give me that option and it might be a favorite.

NintyMan

#65

NintyMan said:

Wow, I had no idea that it was Super Mario Sunshine's ten year anniversary. That's neat.

I think this game does get unfair treatment. Comparing it to the revolutionary Super Mario 64 is entirely fruitless as SMS has a unqiue atmosphere all to its own that SM64 couldn't replicate. The voice acting is not that bad and the platforming sub-levels were one of the highlights of the game for me.

I enjoyed the intimidating boss fight with Phantamanta the giant, goop manta ray and the battle with the goofy-looking King Boo. I could go on with all the cool things this game had, but SMS really is a good game.

NassaDane

#66

NassaDane said:

This is my favorite 3D mario by far. The platforming was the best around. The only thing that was bad in the game were those awful levels Without FLUDD. Those were horrible. But besides that there was just so much there and so much to explore. Really great game. Galaxy was a monster disappointment after this game.

TheConsiglio

#67

TheConsiglio said:

Wow, I like Super Mario Sunshine as its my favorite mario game. It's sad to see people bash this game fir not being a traditional mario platformer and not the true sequel to Super Mario 64. This is a very good game. IMO

JamieOStaff

#69

JamieO said:

Just as a side note, although I have listed other gamer’s complaints below each image to structure this feature, they are not my personal opinion of Super Mario Sunshine. In a sense I have been playing devil's advocate to spark a discussion as part of this game’s 10 year anniversary.

Personally, I have played a hefty amount of Super Mario Sunshine, so I am used to quickly manipulating its camera with the C-Stick and using the Y button to scan upward for far-up platforms and elasticated high wires. I finished it in 2002 with 83 Shine Sprites and then recently I used a spare save slot to complete the main story again, replaying it from scratch this week.

I relish and enjoy the stages that present a challenge, particularly the old-school classic levels, based around the player’s skillful use of the controls. I still get frustrated if I take time to reach a high-up area, but miss a narrow ledge, so plunge all the way down and have to start again, but it is not a huge deal. I can happily and repeatedly work my way through most levels in the game, the general difficulty is not insurmountable to me, it is a fun title.

I think Isle Delfino’s bright visuals, sun-draped setting and quirky islander characters are wonderful. I have heaps of nostalgia for Super Mario Sunshine, it is very worthy in my eyes and I honestly love the holiday vibe of this game.

The idea was to address other gamer’s complaints about the game and their negative perceptions of it. If the feature was written completely from my personal perspective it would be overly nostalgic, with a list of my favourite levels, but it would not acknowledge that gamer opinion is divided on this title.

@Chrono_Cross You are spot on, I made three separate sets of notes for this feature. First of all I compiled a list of all of my favourite stages and memorable set-pieces, based upon my memories of when I completed it in 2002. I then gathered a large amount of research notes to understand other gamer’s opinions and their complaints about the game; these were taken from Internet reviews and forums, but also from my collection of retro magazines, which reviewed Super Mario Sunshine in 2002. Finally, I finished the game for the second time this week and made notes of interest from this replay, based upon all of the episodes that I completed. I then based this feature on key points from these three sets of notes.

TKOWL

#70

TKOWL said:

This came out 10 years ago?

Wow, do the times fly. Easily my favorite Gamecube game, and actually, more people I know prefer this game to Galaxy 1 and 64.

Which I totally agree with.

Gridatttack

#71

Gridatttack said:

Easily, my favorite 3d platforming mario of all time. Sure, the last boss was a huge fail,but the game was fun and challenging.
I could play this game easily over mario 64 (yuck) or galaxy. Maybe not galaxy, because that was good too, but sunshine has a very special feel.

KAHN

#72

KAHN said:

when i was a kid, i loved this game! i thought it was really fun, but sadly, in a couple months after i got the game, my mother sold my entire gamecude set, so i never got to finish it. and i still dont have a gamecube today, but i'll get around to it, eventually. from what i remember, it was a brilliant game, and i don't understand why everyone hates it all of the sudden! and honestly, i REALLY hated the 64 mario game :/

MagicEmperor

#73

MagicEmperor said:

I don't think Super Mario Sunshine is bad, it's just unremarkable to me. I never warmed up to it like I do with other Mario games. But, again, I don't think it's a failure.

CanisWolfred

#74

CanisWolfred said:

I love Super Mario Sunshine, but after playing it again recently, I can see why some people hate it. It does have its annoyances.

paul95

#75

paul95 said:

This is by far my favorite Mario game. I loved it so much I bought a "new sealed" first print, black label version... And it was worth it.

paul95

#76

paul95 said:

Happy Birthday Mario, oh, and Fludd Too. Thanks for the 10 great years of Paradise.

JGer

#78

JGer said:

Although my least favorite 3D Mario game, this one is still one of my favorite games of all time.

I actually really liked the "Secret of..." challenges the most. I love a good, old-school, no mercy kind of challenge, and those provided it in kind.

My least favorite part of the game is the lack of real variety in the level design (I get that they had to stick with the tropical island motif, but it wore thin on me. I really wanted a snow world or something like that just to break up the sunniness). That said, some of the levels I really enjoyed (Noki Bay,Rico Harbor, and Pianta Village being my favorite), and some challenges were just a great deal of fun.

It also loses points for the blue coin challenges. Not many points, mind you, but I would have liked to see another world to bring the total star count up to 120. The blue coins felt a wee bit tacked on.

In the end, still one of my favorite games of all time.

ToxieDogg

#82

ToxieDogg said:

Asides from the frustration factor of trying to locate all the blue coins, and severe problems with the camera on one very specific section (climbing up behind the big wheel in the theme park), I thought Sunshine was an excellent game...easy in some parts, challenging in others, but never boring or off putting. Definitely a worthy successor to Super Mario 64.

WildMan

#83

WildMan said:

I actually think that this is the best 3d Mario game. Yes even better than 64 or galaxy!

ouroborous

#84

ouroborous said:

SMS was one of the WORST mario flagship games ever. It felt hollow and pointless. I tried to play it for a quite a while and it never really grew on me. Those little bonus levels or whatever you want to call them were often murderously difficult while the rest of the game just felt totally aimless. SM64 was not that great and this game was certainly worse.
What mario games DID I like you ask? SMBros1, 2, 3, SMLand1, 2, 3, SMWorld, Yoshi's Island, SML3D, NSMB2, etc, as well as Wario 4, Wario World, and Luigi's Mansion 1.
I didn't dislike Sunshine because of the fact that the gameplay was alot different from normal mario games, I just didn't find it to be fun. It never felt like I was accomplishing anything, ergo, pointless.

Tasuki

#86

Tasuki said:

I have never played this game actually. I keep hearing mixed reviews on it so I cant really say if I like it or not.

UnseatingKDawg

#87

UnseatingKDawg said:

When I first tried this title last year (I didn't have a GameCube before my Wii, so almost all of my GCN titles are used), I didn't care for it. I felt the "classic" sections over a dark abyss were too demanding. I also felt the controls were a tad too touchy, compared to SM64 and both Galaxies. I actually went to the point of saying, "This is the first Mario title I actually don't like". So, for the longest time, this game was not played.

A year later, I've decided to give this another chance. After all, I've beaten every other game in the franchise, sans The Lost Levels (but I'm working on it). Did my opinion change? Yes and no. Are the controls still too touchy? Yes, but I'm getting more used to them. Are the secret areas still too demanding? Well, after fighting my way through those damn cosmic clones, I'd say no. They're still a challenge, but not quite as challenging as creating a complicated path to avoid an enemy that copies every move I make. Are the areas still too big? Well, I've fallen enough times to say yes. But I've realized this - I may have wasted a good portion of time getting one Shine more than once, but I didn't give up. So, slowly, but surely, I will finish this game to 100%.

Mikau94

#88

Mikau94 said:

I enjoyed it but I was never draw into it as much as most Mario games. I could play long enough to nab one Shine Sprite and then turn it off for the day while I would grab 30+ star in one sitting of Galaxy 1 & 2 and Mario 64. With the originals on the NES I could play world after difficult world without stopping.

I don't know what it was about this game but it just doesn't have the appeal most Mario games do.

nocode

#89

nocode said:

I bought a GameCube specifically for this game back in 2002. I liked it while playing it...enough to play it through 100%... but I've never had a desire to revisit it, and I'd never recommend it as a must play. It just left me with a "meh" feeling.

I wasn't put off by the island setting and different feel. I was playing Mario games since the beginning... every game was unique.... You never knew what the new Mario game was gonna be like. So when this was released I was just like...."hmm, an island vacation. Ok let's,play."

Maybe if this got a rerelease and worked with the wiimote and nun chuck I'd consider giving it another go. That control scheme for 3d mario is perfection in my opinion. But I'd definitely skip all blue coin hunting and those roller coaster levels...

evildevil97

#90

evildevil97 said:

I love Sunshine. I prefer it over SM64, but I assume that's mainly because I havent played SM64 when it was new, so it didnt have the same charm to me. (Come to think of it, I think my first real SM64 playthrough was after my first Sunshine playthrough!). It's hard to argue against SM64, in that it did more for the genre, as well. SM64 pretty much created the 3D Platformer. Instead, Sunshine is relegated to being the SMB2 of the 3D games. Sure, it was different, but when did "different" mean "terrible"?

And I think the voice acting was more of a "so bad, it's good" kind of thing. Bowser is the only one who shouldn't have had it. I thought it worked for Junior and Peach.

Plus, I'll go so far as to saying it had the best overworld in the 3D games. But that's not saying much. As great of a game as Galaxy is, it's hard to really back the Observatory.

WildMan

#91

WildMan said:

For everyone saying this game is too difficult, let me say this: more games today need to be this difficult! Mario games today are way too easy!

StarDust4Ever

#93

StarDust4Ever said:

Super Mario Sunshine is definitely the Super Mario Brothers 2 of 3D Marios, but I love it just the same. It's my best friend's favorite Mario game, and despite its collect-a-thon incentive for nabbing Blue Coins, the visuals are gorgeous, and the game is awesome fun once you get used the unusual mechanics.

I also wish Nintendo would go back to placing an emphasis on exploration, with fully featured hub worlds, complete with portals to other levels and secret areas (like Peach'es Castle and Delphino Plaza), instead of cookie-cutter style world maps like in Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land.

grumblebuzzz

#94

grumblebuzzz said:

I liked it, but I've never loved it. I find it odd that if you look at a lot of message boards and YouTube comments, you'll see (usually obviously younger) people clamoring for a sequel. Must be a nostalgia thing, as I'm sure a lot of people who are in their late teens and early 20's got started on Mario with this game. Personally though, I don't really see a need to ever revisit Isle Delfino.

Emaan

#95

Emaan said:

I finally got around to playing through this game during this past summer. I loved everything about it. From the bright atmosphere, to the rich music, to the quirky characters, everything about this game was memorable. Its worthy of the Mario name, and most of all, it was a ton of fun. :D

Ren

#96

Ren said:

I don't get the hate either. I'm not going to play the underdog game and say it was my favorite, but I didn't see any big failings at all. I had great fun with it then, and there were some really hard parts. I could say the same for any other mario game. I never realized there were such big critics of it until years later, weird. how picky can you be!?

Deviant_Mugen

#98

Deviant_Mugen said:

I played this again to 100% about a year ago, and it's just as fun as I remembered it. The camera took some getting used to again, but once you have it down, you're all set. The FLUDD-less levels are the best levels in the game and the atmosphere of Isle Delfino is amazing. This is easily my favorite Mario game of all time, 2D or 3D.

Though finding all the blue coins was a bit tedious, every time I did find one, I felt a sense of satisfaction, especially since most of the final ones are hidden in very obscure places that you have to think outside the box to find.

Damn, after reading this article, I'm feeling like starting up a new file...

gundam00

#99

gundam00 said:

I enjoyed Sunshine a lot! I really liked the Island setting, the different areas, the water, and being in the sun. Playing Mario Sunshine actually made me feel like I was in the South Pacific. I remember how the brightness would grow as you collected Shine Sprites. Plus! We were introduced to Bowser Jr., who is one of my favorite characters!

My only gripes were the fact that you didn't "need" to collect Shine Sprites past the 7th Sprite and there was no incentive to go beyond the 7th Sprite. And those horrendous secret worlds! I couldn't stand those! That was my biggest dislike about the game. In fact, Mario 3DLand is just a collection of those Sunshine "retro" stages re-skinned with snow and bubbles. There's no personality in those levels, its just an empty puzzle stage.

I would like a sequel for the 3DS! Maybe Mario has to save the other islands surrounding Delphino from graffiti?

Capt_N

#100

Capt_N said:

(Sigh...) I can see Sunshine's similarities to 64. I did not like the camera, just like 64's cam got out of hand, sometimes. The va(voice acting) in Sunshine was... annoying. I wondered if Bowser was voiced by Frank Oz(Bowser's va reminded me of the 1970-1990's voice of Sam the Eagle from The Muppets.)? The reason for Peach's kidnapping was,... weird, even for a Mario game. The game lacked that "Mushroom Kingdom" feel. I think what maybe hurt this game the most, was I remember reading somewhere, that the game was not being handled by the regular Mario team. Also, the blue coins,... could have been handled better. Lastly, I would have liked Mario's moveset to more resemble 64(backflip).

I did like the pseudo open-world-ness of the game, similar to 64, & even the "seeing-other-levels-off-in-the-distance", though you obviously couldn't reach them. I liked how, although what I'm about to say was a little worse in Sunshine, than 64, & even worse than Sunshine yet, in Galaxy, that it wasn't completely out of the question in Sunshine. That is, the non-linearity. In 64, I could enter a stage's episode, & for the most part, could deviate, & get another star. However, there were spots where the episode you choose disallowed you from collecting certain other stars. In Sunshine, I felt this was worsened a little bit(but not removed from the game completely), & almost done-in (completely) in Galaxy. Edit: I mean I liked the ability to deviate from the episode's intended goal, which the games got less of from 64 to Sunshine to Galaxy ultimately being very linear.

I liked how the main lobby area basically had stuff for you to do, & areas to visit, particularly one spot you had to visit often. I liked being able to ride Yoshi.

The ending boss wasn't that hot. I prefer the Koopalings also.

I think mainly what ruined Sunshine for me was that it didn't really feel too much like a traditional Mario game, even in regard to enemies.

I would say it's a good game, but I'd say it's a weak Mario game, or if not the weakest, one of the weaker ones.

I'd still never sell it, though. & I just might try to finally 100% it. The blue coins...oh...

NLife, as always ~ nice feature! :)

aesupreme1

#102

aesupreme1 said:

I remember 100%ing this game and feeling the most relieved, and satisfied of any Mario game I have mastered (before and after). One particular level had me die more than any other game - the secret pinball level. It really takes a lot for me to yell at a t.v. screen, and I was yelling at the t.v. for an hour straight until I beat that hellish level. I went from yelling in frustration, to exclamations of joy :)

By the way, Super Mario Sunshine was an awesome game that definitely deserves the recognition it is getting today on NintendoLife.

TimboBaggins

#103

TimboBaggins said:

Sunshine is not worthy of the Mario mantle, and I'll explain why: it is fundamentally different than all other mario games. Its not a bad game, it just doesn't play like a mario game. Unlike this article, I have no beef with the graphics, camera angles, controls, or difficulty. I think ya'll are picking at straws there, for its time Sunshine was a very polished game. However, its not mario. Galaxy 1&2 epitomized for me what a 3D mario game is supposed to look and feel like. Not even 64 did that for me.

TimboBaggins

#104

TimboBaggins said:

@WaxxyOne how is the the FLUDD a logical extension of 64's gameplay? That mechanic was added mainly to limit which areas of the map could be accessed at various times. It was also implemented to take advantage of the analog triggers on the gamecube controller...it was really one of the only games to do that effectively. But a logical sequel? No, not at all.

Gridatttack

#105

Gridatttack said:

Its funny because people are saying [mostly to NSMB2] that mario games are just repetitive, and when this game gets mentioned, which is vastly different than any other mario game, people still complain about how its different :P

tweet75

#106

tweet75 said:

to be honest I never could get into it...its the only super mario game I never completed. I sold it, the only mario game I have sold. I do give nintendo credit though for attempting something different with mario. Anyway heres to a virtual console release of it on wii u.

Blizzaga

#107

Blizzaga said:

@ThomasBW84 I don't see it as a "valid" complaint. It's the New Super Mario Bros. series. Of course they're going to look and feel similar to one another.

SirSmugleaf

#108

SirSmugleaf said:

I've actually been playing through Super Mario Sunshine recently and I think it's a challenging but amazing game!
Although its not as good as the galaxy games.

Marios-love-child

#109

Marios-love-child said:

I've never been a fan, although to be fair I can say the same for the GameCube in general. It was released around a time in my life when I (temporally) lost interest in video games. I would have been 20 at the time and was more interested in going out with friends etc, also I already had a PS2 which was enough for me at the time.

I have since then owed a GameCube and sunshine and as much as I tried (about 75 shines if memory serves me correctly) I just couldn't take to it.

Far too many of the levels I would consider as overly frustrating, ie once you had completed them it was more a sense of relief that it was done rather than enjoyment and maybe wanting to play through it again. Don't get me wrong I enjoy a challenging game but overall this game was too frustrating.

It wasnt a BAD game but It's the one Mario game that I've actually traded in and got rid of and that's so far the only time I'll do that, the rest will stay in my collection for life.

As a side note I'd be willing to bet that most people who claim this to be their favourite Mario title are probably those who's first console was a GameCube and it was probably the first Mario game they thoroughly played and therefore nostalgia will play a big part in the way they think. I'm not suggesting this applies to everyone but for a lot of people this will be the case.

Chunky_Droid

#110

Chunky_Droid said:

I loved this game, only just finished getting 120 shines all over again about a month ago, also thanks @JamieO for referencing my review from a couple of years back :)

FantasiaWHT

#113

FantasiaWHT said:

Awful game. Played it for about 10 hours and hated it. To my mind, it's the equivalent of if SMB3 had been 100% Mario wearing a Kuribo shoe. A neat gimmick taken way. too. far.

Dizzard

#115

Dizzard said:

Personally I far preferred Super Mario Sunshine to Galaxy.

Galaxy for me was just missing that special something that Sunshine had.

I-U

#116

I-U said:

I enjoy seeing the older fans minimize the opinion of Sunshine being one's favorite by claiming nostalgia. I guess Sunshine is the younger fans' analogue to the older fans' Super Mario World or Super Mario Brothers 3.

CowLaunch

#118

CowLaunch said:

It's a good game, just not great.

I feel it's quite an uneven experience. I think Noki Bay is absolutely beautiful and one of the best levels/worlds in the whole Mario series. Wind Waker was the same for me, not consistently great, but had some highlights of the franchise.

Blue-Thunder

#119

Blue-Thunder said:

Its a great game, so if its not the best mario game ever, I can tell you its certainly not the worst, that would be....? ha, I'm not going down that road.

McHaggis

#120

McHaggis said:

Sorry, sunshine officially sucked. So many people can't be wrong, and I'm almost never wrong ;-)

Yadoking

#121

Yadoking said:

Always loved this game, and definitely in my top 10 mario games (probably even top 5). My brother and I played it constantly. One day I came to the internet and found out that other people don't like it. I then crawled back into my beach cavern.

The_Fox

#122

The_Fox said:

@atariman
The camera, the whole FLUDD system and the less than inspired level designs are the biggest reasons. It's the only Mario game (except for some of the spin offs) I can say I strongly dislike.

MetalMario

#123

MetalMario said:

I loved the F.L.U.D.D.-less levels. I wish they would make a whole game with levels like those.

Tornado

#125

Tornado said:

I know Mario games aren't chiefly about plot, but a word about it in this game: For what plot there is, the pacing of it is decidedly poor. The identity of Shadow Mario is the big "story question" and it's answered... what, about 10 shines into the game? Then the next major plot advancement occurs at the final boss fight? Combined with the poor voice acting during these segments, SMS is a case where the addition of a plot greatly detracts from the overall experience.

torotoid64

#126

torotoid64 said:

Jesus Christ. Way to celerbrate a 10 year anniversary by bashing every single detail of the game...

Imagine23

#127

Imagine23 said:

am i the only one who is bothered by the fact that the only way to attack in this game is with FLUDD?

Pete_Stooge

#129

Pete_Stooge said:

THIS IS MY FAVOURITE MARIO GAME OFF ALL TIME. THE WATER ANIMATIONS ARE STILL SO IMPRESSIVE. I USUALLY DON"T USE CAPSLOCK BUT I NEED TO DEFEND THIS INCREDIBLE PIECE OF ART IN GAMING HISTORY.

RogertheDumplin

#130

RogertheDumplin said:

This was the first console game I ever owned, so obviously it has a special place in my heart. It's still my favorite Mario game and my second favorite game, surpassed only by Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

warioswoods

#131

warioswoods said:

It's a wonderful game. I'm saddened a bit that the Galaxy series (particularly in the sequel) has all but abandoned the massive, free-roaming "playground" areas you get in Sunshine. Trying to reach the top of a complex structure is one of the original joys of 3D Mario games as first established in Mario64, but now it has taken a back seat to linearity.

I particularly love the way Sunshine never worries about hurrying you along to the next goal, and if anything encourages the opposite. Every stage is filled with things to play with, so that I can spend quite a while on random tasks and exploration before even thinking about the next Shine. The blue coins, much maligned, are just a reward for finding hidden nooks and reaching difficult places; if you don't worry about collecting all of them (and I never did), they make the exploration a bit more fun.

CowLaunch

#132

CowLaunch said:

FLUDD seemed completely charmless and to me didn't feel like he belonged in the Mario universe. Yoshi vomiting violently wasn't his finest moment either.

Rerun

#133

Rerun said:

It was a different Mario game. It had its Pros and Cons but overall a fun game to play nonetheless.
I like that Nintendo tried something new by using FLUDD.

JamieOStaff

#134

JamieO said:

@siconlolz The headings beneath each picture are other gamer’s niggles regarding the game, they are not the main focus of this feature. The core body of the article defends Super Mario Sunshine. I have summarised specific points below that are detailed in this feature, which I believe celebrate Super Mario Sunshine as a brilliant video game:

  • FLUDD’s innovation is achieved by vertically opening up the environments, particularly with the hover and rocket nozzle, so that stages have a refreshing sense of height, for perpendicular platforming.
  • The difficulty is fair if you master the intricacies of the controls (side-somersaults, wall-kicks, analogue R Trigger running squirt etc). As you become more proficient controlling Mario to conquer episodes, you get a great sense of accomplishment from tackling the challenge, whether for the “…Secret” old-school 3D platforming sections, or the main FLUDD controlled adventure.
  • Isle Delfino is a unique setting for a Mario game. It is attractive and inviting as a video game playground and succeeds at merging much-loved personalities from the Mario universe, while introducing new characters to present a distinctive tropical holiday atmosphere.
  • Super Mario Sunshine is a fantastic Mario game in its own right, it has its own style and sense of identity, regardless of how it compares to other titles in the Super Mario series.
  • It was very well received by video game critics on its American release in August 2002, as exemplified by excellent retro magazine scores and a brilliant 92 Metascore.

Have another read of the feature, it is a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of Super Mario Sunshine.

MattL

#135

MattL said:

I have nothing but fond memories of this game and, thankfully, I'm in the process of reacquiring it :) A fantastic adventure and one I much preferred to Mario 64. Warioswoods articulated his feelings perfectly, and I share in them completely. I cannot wait to revisit Isle Delfino and its quirky, lovable inhabitants and vibrant locations.

Marioman64

#136

Marioman64 said:

people don't like this game? this game was/is fantastic though. it plays just like mario 64 with an extra fludd to spam things with, the heights and tricks you can reach with it are insane, and it actually had shine's that put up a challenge (the lily pad and the red coins thing).

and people thought the fludd-less levels were too hard? well sure maybe if you don't know how to spin jump, learn the controls of the game people.

i'm sure everyone maybe bashed this game because they took away Mario's long jump... maaaaybe

Gridatttack

#137

Gridatttack said:

"Sorry, sunshine officially sucked. So many people can't be wrong."

So if many people jump off a cliff, will you do the same?
Mario Sunshine is a great game. Deal with it everyone who hates it :P

MeloMan

#140

MeloMan said:

That part about comparing it to SMB2 is pretty much the way I felt about it... it isn't celebrated because it's not groundbreaking like SM64, SMG, SMB, and SMB3. It's just... an enjoyable Mario game. They can't all be groundbreaking. Same applies to Zelda. Sometimes ya just have to stop and appreciate a good game for what it is, not for the hype it's suppose to achieve. Just my opinion.

RevolverLink

#141

RevolverLink said:

I wasn't aware that Sunshine needed much defending. No, it probably wasn't one of the better games in the series, but it's still pretty damn fun and was one of the 5 or 10 best games available for the GameCube, which had a stronger library than a lot of people like to remember now.

SonataAndante

#142

SonataAndante said:

Sunshine is a very good game to me. I enjoyed the FLUDDless sections for their challenge and found the levels to be quite expansive, vibrant, and I dunno, they just seemed more alive than anything in SM64. All that said, while I think the blue coins was a fine concept, I think they were overused. That and Corona Mountain as a whole was pathetic. As a final level, it was awful and devoid of challenge or really anything exciting. The most difficult part was navigating the boat in lava and that honestly isn't hard at all. I don't even want to talk about the final boss.

As much as I loved the Galaxy games, I hope that whatever upcoming 3D Mario game we see goes back to the large, open level style used in SM64 and Sunshine.

Chuie

#143

Chuie said:

im happy they didnt make a sequel to mario 54 because it be the same thing over sorta i want something fresh and new all the time

torotoid64

#144

torotoid64 said:

@JamieO. Nonononono I'm sorry I wasn't talking about the article xD I was talking about some of the comments but I guess people have their own opinions

JamieOStaff

#145

JamieO said:

@siconlolz No worries at all, this was my mistake, I apologise to you for the misunderstanding.

I deliberately wrote each heading beneath the images in the words of the naysayers, to potentially draw the reader in. It is the first time I have written in the first person for a feature, with the intention of putting the complaints in the voice of a gamer that is unimpressed by the game. However, I had slight concerns that a reader may misconstrue my headings as my own personal grumbling. Hopefully it is clear that I consider Super Mario Sunshine well worth celebrating on its 10th anniversary.

I am overjoyed with the response to this feature, I think that a diverse and thoughtful set of opinions have been discussed. I am really pleased with the knowledge and passion evident in these comments. The analysis by readers in regard to the implementation of collecting blue coins to ‘buy’ Shine Sprites, which superficially extends lastabilty, is excellent. I wish I had covered that angle in the feature.

I love the comments from gamers like @TheSolarKnight that mention how the main areas in the game are visually connected, because you can see them in the distance in the background. This was a charming detail, I actually made that observation in my research notes, alongside the game’s other lovely little quirks, like how there is a musician playing a separate jaunty tune when you stand beside the spring ready for Chain Chomp’s Bath.

I feel that the comments and response to this article are another great example of how brilliant Nintendo Life’s community are at examining the intricacies of a Nintendo game. I am very proud of this feature, because of the debate and discussion that followed it.

Thank you to all of you Nlifers.

ueI

#146

ueI said:

Warioswoods makes some good points. I think I had more fun goofing around than playing the missions themselves. At times, though, the large areas were overwhelming. A bit of a double edged sword, really.

WiiLovePeace

#148

WiiLovePeace said:

Man I loved Super Mario Sunshine, it just had a certain atmosphere to it. Just the theme of going on a holiday, everything was so bright & lush & it just felt amazing to play around in the game. The music & the design really make it a wonderful game to behold in my eyes. I'm so thankful Nintendo chose to go in a totally new direction with the Super Mario series with this game. I really should try to play through it again for nostalgic purposes. Happy 10th NA birthday Super Mario Sunshine! :D

Slapshot

#149

Slapshot said:

Fantastic read @JamieO!

I've got fond memories of playing Sunshine and me and my brother were talking about it just the other day on the phones — it's his favourite Mario title. :)

Luigi_is_better

#150

Luigi_is_better said:

I'm so glad you guys wrote this article! I agree wholeheartedly! It's a fantastic game that deserves to be remembered on its own and not in SM64's shadow. 64 is my favorite Mario title, but I love Sunshine too.

The parts where the FLUDD was taken away were my favorite. I used to explain this to people all the time. The game gives you a crutch when it comes to jumping for most of the game, making you lazy when hopping around. Then it takes it away and what used to be normal jumps become very difficult. Messing with you like that is genius!

berenlazarus

#151

berenlazarus said:

I grew up with Mario, like most other gamers. With only two exceptions, I have played every Mario title at launch or shortly thereafter, from the original 1985 "Super Mario Bros" all the way down to "New Super Mario Bros. 2" (yes I'm old). Obviously being American we didn't get "Lost Levels" until "Super Mario All-Stars", but I got the SNES version when it was released back in '93 and have played through "Lost Levels" so many times over the years I've more than made up for not getting it back in 1986.

Anyway, the two I missed? "Super Mario Land" for the Gameboy (which I did play very briefly back when it first came out, but I never had it; we with with "Super Mario Land 2" instead when I did get a Gameboy) and "Super Mario Sunshine". I beat "Super Mario Land" over two decades after it was first released.

I tried playing through "Super Mario Sunshine" this year actually . . . and I HATED it. Probably doesn't help that "Super Mario 64" is one of my all time favorite games, but trying to go through "Sunshine" was just tedious to me. I knew not to expect anything like Galaxy since those came after, but instead was preparing for something like SM64 . . . and SM64 is just SO MUCH BETTER than than this.

The levels lack flow. I was often left wandering around not knowing what to do next. The great thing about SM64 is you could get pretty much any star when you entered a level (with literally only one or two exceptions to this, which are in "Bob-Omb Battle Field" before you get the Wing Cap). With big expansive levels, it's better to have all stars available.

The Shadow Mario battles just sucked, having to run around spraying him with water. It was the only Mario game that I consistently got so frustrated across multiple levels that I just wanted to turn the dang thing off. As far as that stupid Ricco Harbor where you have to jump on the metal grinders to go up higher and higher to get to the hidden star, I wanted to scream. Kept falling off of them. The game is just unpolished. The roller coaster battle actually made me motion sick (which is the only time that has ever happened in a video game to me).

The blue coins that everyone complains about I totally get their frustration. Talk about tedious. And yes, the voice acting is BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD.

To be fair, the farthest I got was Noki Bay and I think I have around 20 to 30 sprites. I still have my save file and I'll go back to playing it (Sunshine can't be the ONLY game in the Mario canon I haven't beaten) but I got nowhere near the enjoyment that I did from SM64 or the two Galaxy games.

Pete_Stooge

#152

Pete_Stooge said:

Ok, i see i'm not the only one who thinks of this game as one of the marvels in the mario series.

Honestly, i fell in love with this game only after 20/30 stars or so when i really started using Fludd to make the most wonderful moves, like hovering, rocketing, sliding and what not. Besides that, a few of the stars in Sunshine were insanely hard and frustrating, but...that's Mario. To hate him is to love him, sort of....Finally getting those stars could make a day. The last two Mario releases: 3dland and New SMB 2 (or something) are well designed but too easy, as in unrewarding. Finishing a Mario game in a day would never have come to Nintendo's mind 10 years ago. Nowadays unfortunately it has.

StarDust4Ever

#153

StarDust4Ever said:

That brings up another point: the more proficient you get with the hover nozzle, the more you enjoy playing it. I remember first playing through it back in 2005 (I didn't get a Game Cube until 2004) and becoming frustrated with some of the levels. For example, in many of the levels, there are just some plain lazy ways to get to the shine that I would have never guessed my first time around. Like in Ricco Harbor, I worked my butt off to get up to the top, and finally dropped down into the center of the shine cage, only to find there was a trap door at the bottom, and I could have easily blasted up from the water as soon as I got the Rocket Nozzle. The fludd pack makes for some very interesting gameplay mechanics, and even as a novice gamer before I mastered fludd, it took me several tries to defeat the first two pirana plants. You won't master the fludd pack overnight, and people who apporach this game for the first time with the intention of beating it soon after are in for a rude awakening. But if you take the game at a slow pace, you learn the mechanics very well, not only by collecting shines but also goofing off in the Plaza. And no other Mario game encourages "goofing off" as much as Sunshine does.

Then there were all the little quirky humorous things they stuffed into the game: what other game let's you ride a puking dinosaur, and the final boss has you fighting a dragon in a giant hot tub? Nintendo took a lot of liberties with this game, but overall I give it an A-. My biggest compliant is that there's water everywhere and Yoshi literally dies when he touches it. :P But, just like SMB2, Sunshine was the second 3D Mario, and just a little different fro all the rest.

But like they always say, once you go FLUDD pack, you can't go back!!!

Chuie

#154

Chuie said:

mario sunshine is my 3rd favorite mario game
1.mario 64
2.mario world
3.mario sunshine

imagiNATIVE_AK

#155

imagiNATIVE_AK said:

this video game was a bright and different installment to super mario series. I loved the vacation feeling it delivered, even when i know peach is captured (YET AGAIN), i hope the pianta and nokis find a home in new mario games, because they're so adorable

Luffymcduck

#156

Luffymcduck said:

The last open world 3D Mario. Don´t get me wrong, I like Galaxy games. But there hasn´t been a proper open world Mario in 10 years. Sunshine had few camera problems, and some blue coins were ridiculously hard to find. But it had lot more positives than negatives. Great levels, it´s not in Mushroom Kingdom for a change, great game mechanics and controlls.

Now why CAN`T I DIVE IN NEW 3D MARIO´S??? It was so much fun using all those moves, Nintendo has tried to make things too simple after that (best example, Mario 3D Land).

A new open world 3D Mario for WiiU is must. Make it happen once again Nintendo.

1. Super Mario World
2. Super Mario 64
3. Super Mario Sunshine

Why did I include these three games in my fav Mario games list? The reason is... open worlds to explore.

Gridatttack

#157

Gridatttack said:

Super mario 64 wasn't that great. I barely managed to play through all the levels in the DS version because I didn't find it entertaining, because it doesn't feel that great. Sure, its the first home console 3D game, but take off your nostalgia glasses an see how is the game.
Regardless Open world-ness, SM64 was somewhat limited to the level. The castle isnt that much of exploring. Meanwhile, sunshine was very well visually connected and the main hub to access the level was filled with secrets.
Also, I personally find the custom level mods that mario 64 gets to be far better than the original mario 64 is, because they work on the open world feel the game is supposed to have.

hefeloce

#159

hefeloce said:

You talk a lot about how bad this game's camera was, I never had Issues with it. I learned to play this game always using both sticks at the same time... And yeah, it is not the best Mario game out there, but it does something different, it risks itself with some new ideas, and thats good.

TheAmazingRaccoon

#160

TheAmazingRaccoon said:

I love everything about SMS except the fact that you basically have to finish every every shine in every level to get to the end boss. It didn't have the "do it your own way" mentality that is prevalent in the 3D marios. I love the way you can choose where to get the required stars etc for the final boss in the other 3D SMs.

rabbitwanter

#161

rabbitwanter said:

I hateeee the secret levels! D:<
I seriously love FLUDD♥ I need him for the dang secret levels... On practically all my files I finished every area up until the secret level. The Secret Of The Dirty Lake always gets me...
But it is a nice challenge c: I like how I can go to any level I choose rather than in a set order like in other Mario games.
I'm playing the Mysterious Hotel Delfino level now o/

howierux

#162

howierux said:

I just read some of the comments written by others and have to resist facepalming...

To those comparing Super Mario Galaxy to Super Mario Sunshine... STAHP!
That's like comparing any later game to an earlier one. You will almost always think newer is better. Nintendo has had a chance to refine their systems and come up with new ideas since then. OF COURSE IT IS BETTER.

In order to have TRULY appreciated Super Mario Sunshine, you need to have played it when it came out, or not have played anything since. So yes, it is not as good as the others that came after. That doesn't mean it wasn't amazing for the time.

I for one loved Super Mario Sunshine. Still do.
As for Galaxy and 2, I still haven't played them yet. I'm sure they are at least 8 times better.

I also enjoyed the challenges caused by some of the problematic systems. Storyline problems? I thought they were funny! I took most of it as comedic.

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